Garnering Attention Through Word-of-Mouth - eMarketer
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Garnering Attention Through Word-of-Mouth

September 23, 2016 | Social Media | Marketing


Jonah Berger
Marketing Professor
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Psychology is an important metric for marketers to consider when analyzing data coming out of digital marketing campaigns, according to Jonah Berger, a professor of marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” and “Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior.” In advance of Berger’s presentation at eMarketer’s Attention! 2016 event next month, Sean Creamer spoke to Berger about how about how word-of-mouth influences consumers online and offline.

eMarketer: How are brands using psychology to quantify digital advertising campaigns?

Jonah Berger: Online content is a hot topic these days and brands are trying to figure out how to spend money effectively. Brands want people paying attention to what they’re doing. Studying marketing and psychology is a great way to understand the human behavior that drives success at the business level.

eMarketer: How important is psychology when it comes to understanding data?

Berger: There’s a lot of excitement today around technology. If we don’t understand the psychology of the customer, it’s hard to use all of that data effectively. The data by itself is just data. You need the insight and the understanding to analyze that data.

“Studying marketing and psychology is a great way to understand the human behavior that drives success at the business level.”

eMarketer: What conclusions are drawn by analyzing data with a mind toward psychology?

Berger: [One thing the process does is cause us] to think about what are the types of questions we need to answer. Brands are realizing it’s not enough to be product-focused. Brands need to be customer-focused. They need to understand the customer’s need and build the brand around that. It isn’t just selling what they can make and focusing on what they’re good at. It’s about making content around what they sell and really understanding the customer.

eMarketer: When launching a campaign, what methods are used to promote a digital campaign?

Berger: One method is boosting the number of views. If something has a lot of views, marketers assume people are more likely to look at it. They’ll get a lot of people to click the content right at the beginning to make it look like it’s doing really well.

People pay to have lots of people watch their content. [From the consumer’s perspective] it looks good when other people look at it, knowing that your friend or someone else likes something.

eMarketer: What is the value of word-of-mouth in digital advertising?

Berger: The value of word-of-mouth is it’s free. If people share your content, it doesn’t cost you anything, but you have to get them to share it. So companies use lots of tips and tricks to do that. Brands like Amazon, or an organization like Facebook, they say, “your friend likes this brand.”

The fact that your friend has done it makes you more likely to do it as well. This is true across the board—if you know your friends are voting, you’re more likely to go and vote as well.

eMarketer: Do marketers look at word-of-mouth online and offline?

Berger: When we think about word-of-mouth, marketers tend to think about Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online reviews. Actually, only about 7% to 10% of word-of-mouth is online. Most word-of-mouth is actually offline.

See Jonah Berger in person at eMarketer Attention! 2016 on October 25, in New York. Following his keynote, “The Invisible Influence of Attention,” he’ll be on hand for conversations and to sign complimentary copies of his new book. Learn more and register here.

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